KR20180048405A - Method and system for non-destructive testing using an unmanned aerial vehicle - Google Patents

Method and system for non-destructive testing using an unmanned aerial vehicle Download PDF

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Publication number
KR20180048405A
KR20180048405A KR1020170144127A KR20170144127A KR20180048405A KR 20180048405 A KR20180048405 A KR 20180048405A KR 1020170144127 A KR1020170144127 A KR 1020170144127A KR 20170144127 A KR20170144127 A KR 20170144127A KR 20180048405 A KR20180048405 A KR 20180048405A
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South Korea
Prior art keywords
ndi
sensors
uav
nondestructive inspection
target
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KR1020170144127A
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Korean (ko)
Inventor
개리 조지슨
스콧 리아
제임스 제이. 트로이
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더 보잉 컴파니
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Priority to US15/338,491 priority Critical
Priority to US15/338,491 priority patent/US20180120196A1/en
Application filed by 더 보잉 컴파니 filed Critical 더 보잉 컴파니
Publication of KR20180048405A publication Critical patent/KR20180048405A/en

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Abstract

UAV ") comprising a body structure, wherein the body structure comprises one or more support structures, each of the one or more support structures including a releasable end structure; And one or more non-destructive testing ("NDI") sensors integrated in each releasable end structure. The NDI system may also include a position tracking system capable of determining position, orientation, or both position and orientation for the UAV and / or one or more NDI sensors for the structure being inspected.

Description

TECHNICAL FIELD [0001] The present invention relates to a method and system for non-destructive inspection using an unmanned aerial vehicle,

This disclosure generally relates to systems and methods for performing inspection activities, and more particularly to a system and method for enabling remote inspection of structures or objects by an unmanned moving vehicle.

NDI ("non-destructive inspection") of structures entails thorough inspection of the structure without harming the structure or requiring significant degradation of the structure. NDI is advantageous for many applications where thorough inspection of the exterior and / or interior of the structure is required. For example, NDI is commonly used in the aircraft industry to inspect its structure for any type of internal or external damage to the aircraft structure. Among the structures that are routinely nondestructively inspected are complex structures. Accordingly, it is often desirable to inspect complex structures to identify any defects such as cracks, voids, or voids that may adversely affect the performance of the composite structure. Other examples of structures that raise serious problems in inspection include bridges, dams, dikes, power plants, power lines or power grids, water treatment facilities; There are infrastructure, monorail support structures associated with refineries, chemical treatment plants, high rise buildings, electric trains.

Various types of sensors can be used to perform NDI. One or more sensors can be moved over the structure to be inspected to receive data about the structure where internal defects can be identified. The data obtained by the sensors is generally processed by the processing element, and the processed data can be presented to the user via the display.

Direct human-based examinations of structures and various types of objects are time-consuming, costly, difficult and often dangerous for an individual to perform. The use of static cameras (i.e., fixed position cameras) to provide periodic photographs of structures or objects requiring periodic visual inspection has been met with limited efficiency. Static cameras have limited visibility into the environment. Therefore, it is difficult or impossible to inspect a large area such as a power line extending more than a few hundred meters without using such cameras. Moreover, once the camera is in place, it may not be readily accessible for repair or maintenance. Mounting the camera may require the camera to be exposed to the elements, which may reduce the operating reliability and / or cost of the camera.

Static cameras mounted near tops of bridges to obtain periodic photographs of structural parts of bridges can also be difficult and / or costly to access by individuals if repair or maintenance is required. Actions requiring an individual to approach a camera mounted on top of a bridge, dam or the like can also entail significant risk to the safety of life for workers or workers who are responsible for such work.

Occasionally, an infrastructure may require such inspections that environmental, chemical, or biological elements can cause inspections to put human workers at significant risk to their health. Such a situation can be found in a manufacturing facility where, in areas where harmful chemicals may be present, periodic periodic inspections of the equipment or some of the machines operating therein are required. Inspection of the structural parts of the offshore oil drilling platform may be another example where environmental factors can make the inspection of various parts of the platform by people risky. Other structures, for example, large antennas or telescopes located in the mountains, can suggest situations where human testing poses a significant risk to personal safety.

In some inspection applications, humanoid helicopters were used to inspect various infrastructures. However, humanoid helicopters can be expensive to operate in terms of asset cost (helicopter, fuel and maintenance) and operating costs (pilot salary). Also, inspections are limited by the number of pilots and helicopters available, and may be dangerous in some cases, such as during a storm or drought. In addition, the use of maneuvering helicopters or other types of vehicles is sometimes not possible at some locations that are difficult to access or sometimes in bad weather.

Remote controlled (RC) helicopters cost less but require skilled operators, and thus requiring a large number of costly skilled operators to inspect large areas with multiple helicopters. Also, due to the number of skilled operators and equipment available, the time duration for which precise visual inspection and inspection work can be performed can be limited.

These methods suffer additional defects. At present, human-controlled RC helicopters can only visually inspect infrastructure. The inspection is thus limited to the detection of surface damage. Moreover, GPS-equipped human steering and RC helicopters can provide approximate estimates of sufficient location for visual inspection, but GPS tracking is not accurate enough for use with other NDI testing methods.

Therefore, there is a need in the industry to solve the aforementioned deficiencies and nonconformities.

According to examples of these teachings, a nondestructive inspection ("NDI") system is provided. The system includes an unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAV") that includes a body structure, wherein the body structure includes one or more support structures, wherein at least one of the one or more support structures includes a releasable end structure May contain -; And one or more NDI sensors integrated into each releasable end structure.

According to the examples, the UAV may include a release controller operable to provide control signals to one or more support structures to release one or more NDI sensors from the releasable end structure.

According to the examples, at least one of the one or more NDI sensors is operable to sense one or more NDI sensing schemes.

In accordance with the examples, the NDI system may further include a tether operable to provide power to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors.

According to the examples, one or more NDI sensors may include a mounting mechanism operable to fix one or more NDI sensors to a structure to be inspected.

According to the examples, the NDI system may further comprise a position tracking system operable to determine a position, an orientation, or both a position and an orientation for at least one of the one or more NDI sensors for the structure.

According to the examples, the mounting mechanism is self-based, vacuum-based, electrostatic-based, gripper-based or adhesive-based.

According to the examples, the UAV may be operable to move using a predetermined flight path that is updated using position and orientation data obtained from a tracking system or controlled using a remote control system.

According to the examples, one or more NDI sensing schemes may include contact-based NDI sensing.

According to the examples, one or more NDI sensors may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, computer tomography sensors, surface illuminance sensors, IR Thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors.

According to the examples, at least one of the one or more support structures includes a manipulator arm. The manipulator arm may include a gripper, wherein the gripper is operable to manipulate one or more NDI sensors relative to the structure being inspected.

According to the examples, one or more NDI sensors may be moved relative to the structure during data collection.

According to the examples, one or more of the support structures may be comprised of one or more maintenance tools, and one or more of the maintenance tools may be a sander, a drill, a brush, a paint sprayer, a marker, Laser or target applicator.

According to examples of these teachings, a nondestructive inspection ("NDI") system is provided. The system includes a housing configured to receive components, the components including one or more NDI sensors operable to measure one or more characteristics of the structure; A mounting mechanism operable to secure or release the housing to the structure; And a transceiver operable to transmit measurement data from one or more NDI sensors, wherein the housing is sized to be delivered to a target location of the structure by an unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAV").

According to the examples, one or more NDI sensors may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, computer tomography sensors, surface illuminance sensors, IR Thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors or more.

According to the examples, the mounting mechanism may be one of a magnetic based, a vacuum based, an electrostatic based, an adhesive based and a gripper based.

In accordance with the examples, an NDI system may further include a power supply operable to power one or more NDI sensors.

According to the examples, the NDI system provides power to one or more NDI sensors from a power supply external to the housing, transmits and receives signal data to / from the NDI sensor, and provides a signal to the NDI sensor as a safety and retrieval mechanism And may further include a tether operable to act.

According to the examples, the NDI system may further comprise an impact protection structure operable to provide impact protection to at least a portion of the housing. The impact protection structure may include an inflatable structure or a floatation structure.

In accordance with the examples, the NDI system may further include a movement mechanism operable to move the housing along the surface of the structure.

According to examples of the present teachings there is provided a non-transient computer readable storage medium for storing instructions which when executed by a processor causes the processor to perform a method for nondestructive inspection ("NDI ") of the structure . The method includes directing an unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAV") to a target location of the structure; Physically fixing the UAV or end effector to a target location; Performing an NDI of the target position using one or more NDI sensors; And physically releasing the UAV or end effector from the target location.

According to the examples, the method may further comprise providing a control signal for controlling rotor operation of the UAV prior to the performing step.

According to the examples, the physical fixation may be self-based, vacuum based, electrostatic based, adhesive based or gripper based.

According to the examples, the method may further comprise deploying at least one of the one or more NDI sensors to the target location (s).

According to the examples, the method may further comprise the step of tracking position, orientation, or both position and orientation with respect to the target position using a position positioning system.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the present disclosure, as claimed.

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate the present disclosure and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the disclosure.
Figure 1 illustrates a first implementation of a system according to the examples of this disclosure.
Figure 2 illustrates a second implementation of the system according to the examples of this disclosure.
Figure 3 illustrates a third implementation of the system according to the examples of this disclosure.
4 is a block diagram illustrating that an NDI device may be deployed by a UAV, in accordance with the examples of this disclosure.
5 is a flow diagram of operations that may be performed by the systems of Figs. 1-3.

Exemplary implementations of the present disclosure will now be described in detail, with examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts. In the following description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific specific illustrative embodiments in which the disclosure may be practiced. It is to be understood that these implementations are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the present disclosure, and that other implementations may be utilized and variations may be made without departing from the scope of the present disclosure . Therefore, the following description is only an example.

Generally speaking, examples of the present disclosure enable the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, for remote NDI of structures such as bridges, ships, etc., beyond simple visual inspection by the naked eye or IR camera ≪ / RTI > A UAV includes one or more support structures that are attached or integrated at one end to a UAV and the other end supports one or more NDI devices. One or more support structures may have a fixed length or may be a retractable member having a first length when in a retracted condition and a longer length in an extended condition. UAVs can also enable maintenance activities such as location tagging for periodic remote inspection. Adhesive tags, paint, etc. may also be attached as such for future reference or may enable 3-D visualization. An off-board tracking system for vehicle and sensor localization provides precise location of the UAV and inspection location for navigation and provides correlation with the 3-D model of the structure. Various systems and methods may be used to retain UAV and / or NDI devices on the surface of the structure to be inspected, including, but not limited to, magnetic based, vacuum based, electrostatic based, adhesive based or gripper based . In some instances, two or more of these attachment mechanisms may be used in combination. In a self-based approach, an electron permanent ("EP") magnet can be enabled with an electrical pulse and can maintain a voltage applied state without the use of electrical power. In a vacuum-based approach, the UAV can be used in a variety of ways, such as described in U.S. Patent No. 8,738,226, which is a background example of the name "Holonomic motion vehicle for travel on non-level surfaces" One or more electrical conduit fans configured to generate the suction forces of the electrical conduit. In the electrostatic-based approach, electrostatic forces are used between the substrate material (e.g., the surface of the structure being inspected) and the electrically tacky surface of the support structure or NDI device. In this approach, the electrically adhesive pads are comprised of conductive electrodes deposited on the surface of the polymer. When alternating positive and negative charges are induced in adjacent electrodes, the electric field sets opposite charges on the substrate, thereby causing electrostatic adhesion between the electrodes and the induced charges on the substrate. In the adhesive-based approach, the adhesive glue or removable glue pads can be detached from the surface by pulling the tabs. Also, glue can be used, which means that the glue can be made to be sticky or non-sticky freely by creating a modified structure with glue that can be turned on and off. In a gripper-based approach, one or more support structures may include an end portion that, when activated, is open or closed and has one or more grip portions that can be physically held on a portion of the structure being inspected.

In one exemplary operation, a UAV with one or more NDI devices supported by one or more support structures, such as a manipulator arm, is blown into the target area of the structure being inspected. The UAV operator commands the UAV to position the NDI device to the target area, for example, by extending the manipulator arm. NDI devices may have magnetostatic devices for ferromagnetic structures, such as vacuum-based, electrostatic-based, adhesive-based, gripper-based devices for EP magnets and / or non-ferromagnetic structures. The EP magnet can be enabled with an electrical pulse and then remain energized without the use of electrical power. When a voltage is applied to the EP magnet, the UAV can be physically fixed to the target area when the EP magnet touches the target area and sustains the weight of the UAV. After being physically fixed in the target area, the rotors on the UAV can then be switched off (stop rotating), in which case the UAV is now in a stable fixed position. The NDI device can then be activated to fetch the test readings. The 3D position of the UAV may be measured by an off-board tracking system, such as a local positioning system ("LPS"), which can determine the position of the UAV relative to the coordinate system of the structure being inspected. Once the NDI check is complete, the rotors of the UAV may start, the securing mechanism may be deactivated, the UAV may fly away or the next inspection location may be fired, and the process may be repeated. A camera or camera mounting device (such as a smart phone) may be attached to the UAV to support instructions or operations of aspects of the system.

In another exemplary operation, the stand-alone NDI device may be dropped-off by the UAV. In this example, a UAV equipped with one or more standalone NDI devices is flushed to the first target area of the structure to be examined, the operator commands the UAV to attach one of the NDI devices to the first target area, (Or flies to the second target area, and the drop-off process is repeated). A standalone NDI device includes a locking mechanism, i.e., a magnetic-based, vacuum-based, electrostatic-based, adhesive-based or gripper-based locking mechanism, which allows the NDI device to be attached to the target area. In the example of magnetic (EP magnets), an NDI device can be attached with a single electric pulse and maintain a voltage applied state without the use of the next electric power. An NDI device can be wireless and includes one or more NDI sensors, and can include other controllable elements. After being placed in the target area by the UAV, the 3D position of the NDI device can be measured by an off-board tracking system, i.e. the LPS, which can determine the position of the NDI device with respect to the coordinate system of the structure being inspected. Once the NDI check is complete, the locking mechanism can be deactivated, such as putting the EP magnet in a no-voltage state, the NDI device falling off the target area and being recovered by the operator. In this example, more than one standalone NDI device can be deployed in a single flight by a UAV. In some situations the NDI device may be placed directly on the structure being inspected by the UAV and in other situations the UAV may launch a standalone NDI device such as a launch vehicle so that the device can be firmly attached to reach the locations on the structure can do. A standalone NDI device may include other features that may be useful in performing an operation or preventing damage to the device when the device is released from the target object. For example, an NDI device may include small wheels or tracks that allow the device to move over the surface (turning the device into a mini crawler). The NDI device may also include an inflatable component that can be inflated by the wireless command, which may protect the NDI device (or others that may be located beneath it) from damage during the drop, If it is missing, the device can be brought up.

Referring to Figure 1, a system 100 for inspecting structures in accordance with the examples of this disclosure is shown. The system 100 includes an unmanned moving vehicle 105 that can be used to move around a structure 110 that requires periodic inspection. In this example, the unmanned vehicle is illustrated as an unmanned aircraft, and more specifically as an unmanned rotating-wing aircraft (hereinafter simply referred to as a "UAV" 105), but may be an unmanned land vehicle and an unmanned marine vessel Other types of unmanned vehicles may be readily adapted for use with the present system 100. In addition, although the target structure 110 is illustrated as an I-beam, the system 100 may include power lines, power plants, power grids, dams, dikes, stadiums, large buildings, large antennas and telescopes, Inspection of a wide variety of other structures, including, but not limited to, infrastructure and monorail support structures associated with buildings, containers, water treatment facilities, refineries, chemical treatment plants, high rise buildings, The same applies to the use of The system 100 is also particularly suitable for use within large buildings such as manufacturing facilities and warehouses. In fact, any structure that is difficult, expensive, or too dangerous to inspect by a manned or RC vehicle can potentially be inspected using the system 100.

The UAV 105 includes a body structure 115 in which one or more support structures 120 are disposed. One or more support structures 120 are attached to body structure 115 at one end and to one or more NDI devices 125 at a second end. In some instances, at least one of the one or more support structures 120 includes a manipulator arm, wherein the manipulator arm includes a gripper, the gripper having one or more NDI devices < RTI ID = 0.0 >Lt; RTI ID = 0.0 > 125 < / RTI > In some instances, at least one of the manipulator arms and / or one or more support structures 120 may be comprised of one or more maintenance tools, and one or more maintenance tools may include a sander, a drill, a brush, , A paint sprayer, a marker, a laser, a laser marking system, an ink stamp or a target applicator.

One or more NDI devices 125 may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, computer tomography sensors, surface illuminance sensors, IR But is not limited to, one or more sensors including, but not limited to, thermography, microwave sensors and terahertz sensors.

One or more NDI devices 125 may include a securing mechanism for physically holding one or more NDI devices 125 and / or UAVs 105 on the surface of the structure 110 to be inspected Including, but not limited to, self-based, vacuum based, electrostatic based, adhesive based or gripper based. In a self-based approach, the EP magnet is enabled with an electrical pulse, and the voltage can remain applied without the use of electrical power. In a vacuum-based approach, which may be combined with an adhesive-based approach while the adhesive is drying, the UAV may include an on-board vacuum generating system, which may include one or more motor driven impeller units, as described in U.S. Patent No. 8,738,226 . ≪ / RTI > The speed at which the motors rotate determines the amount of vacuum generated and is controlled by the operator or a motor controller unit indicated by the automatic control system from the control workstation. The vacuum attachment system may also include conduits and automatic leveling skirts (or pucks) that allow the system to slide over small objects without losing too much of the suction force. In the electrostatic-based approach, electrostatic forces are used between the substrate material (e.g., the surface of the structure being inspected) and the support structure or the electrically tacky surface of the NDI sensor. In this approach, the electrically adhesive pads are comprised of conductive electrodes deposited on the surface of the polymer. When alternating positive and negative charges are induced in adjacent electrodes, the electric field sets opposite charges on the substrate, thereby causing electrostatic adhesion between the electrodes and the induced charges on the substrate. In the adhesive-based approach, the adhesive glue or removable glue pads can be detached from the surface by pulling the tabs. Also, glue can be used, which means that the glue can be made to be sticky or non-sticky freely by creating a modified structure with glue that can be turned on and off. In a gripper-based approach, one or more support structures may include an end portion that, when activated, is open or closed and has one or more grip portions that can be physically held on a portion of the structure being inspected.

With respect to the self-based approach, one or more NDI devices 125 are described in U.S. Patent No. 9,156,321, which is a background example of the name "Adaptive Magnetic Coupling System ", which is jointly owned by the same assignee as the present application Likewise, it may include a locking mechanism to actively control the attraction between the coupling magnets. In this example, one or more NDI devices 125 actively adjust the magnitude of the attraction force between the magnets used to couple one or more NDI devices 125 to the structure 110 To a variable thickness of the < / RTI >

In some instances, one or more NDI devices 125, once deployed by the UAV 105, may use one or more movement mechanisms capable of engaging and mating with the surface of the structure 110, May be operable to move along or around the surface using, for example, tracks, wheels, articulated arms, or the like. Movement can be accomplished at least using a locking mechanism, such as by selectively turning the locking mechanism on and off in a controlled manner. For example, using a self-based approach, one or more NDI devices 125 may move over a variable thickness skin of the structure 110, where one or more NDI devices 125 and structures (e.g., The sensor data is used by the control system to determine the proper attraction between the magnetic sensor 110 and the magnetic sensor 110 so that the magnetic coupling system can automatically adapt to the variable skin thickness. In some instances, the teachings of U.S. Patent No. 8,738,226, which is a background example of the designation entitled "Holonomic Motion Vehicle for Travel on Non-Level Surfaces ", which is jointly owned by the present application, allows movement of one or more NDI devices 125 Can be used. In this example, one or more NDI devices 125 may have a frame with four (or a multiple of four) Mecanum wheels, where each wheel is connected to an independently controlled motor And has a plurality of (e.g., two) independently controlled suction devices. The mechanum wheels enable holonomic motion, while inhalation devices enable precise control of motion on non-horizontal surfaces.

In some instances, the UAV 105 may include an on-board system that may enable the UAV 105 to navigate in accordance with a preprogrammed flight plan and allow inspection data for the structure 110 being inspected to be obtained have. In some instances, the UAV 105 may be caused to fly along the flight path 135 by an operator using the wireless UAV controller 130. The UAV 105 can be controlled using the teachings of U.S. Patent No. 7,643,893, which is a background example of the name entitled " Closed-Loop Feedback Control Using Motion Capture System " The UAV 105 may be controlled using a closed loop feedback control system using motion capture systems. The system may include a motion capture system configured to measure one or more motion characteristics of the UAV 105 as the UAV 105 operates within the control volume. The processor receives the measured motion characteristics from the motion capture system and determines the control signal based on the measured motion characteristics. The position control system receives the control signal and continuously adjusts at least one motion characteristic of the UAV 105 to maintain or achieve a desired motion state. The UAV 105 may be equipped with passive retroreflective markers. The motion capture system, processor and position control system include a complete closed loop feedback control system.

The inspection data may include data from one or more sensors. The inspection data may also include photographs, video or audio data. The preprogrammed flight plan carried by the UAV 105 allows the UAV 105 to follow the flight path around a portion of the structure 110. In some instances more than one UAV 105 may be used and this UAV 105 may enable inspection of various areas of the structure 110 within a shorter time than a single UAV, It can form what can be seen as a "herd" of vehicles that can be difficult, costly and / or dangerous to inspect.

The system 100 may further include a remote testing station 140 for receiving wireless communications from the UAV 105. The remote inspection station 140 may include an antenna and a computer control system for viewing by an inspection technician or operator. The remote inspecting station 140 can be used to monitor various operating performance parameters of the UAV 105, such as fuel remaining, battery power, and the like, or to send commands. The remote testing station 140 may also be used to generate commands to change the flight path 135 of the UAV 105.

The remote testing station 140 may include an LPS 145. In some instances, the LPS 145 is a background example of the designation " Local Positioning System and Method ", U.S. Patent No. 8,044,991 and / or U.S. Patent No. 7,859,655, entitled " Method Involving a Pointing Instrument and a Target Object & The teachings of which are all owned by the same assignee of the present application.

In one example, as described in U.S. Patent No. 7,859,655, the LPS 145 is a computer that communicates with a video camera, a laser rangefinder, transmission and measurement pan and tilt axes, and the LPS 145, . ≪ / RTI > The LPS 145 can be used to determine the position of the target of interest, such as the point of interest on the surface of the structure 110, with the target coordinate system using an indicator having a point of aim axis and having a mechanical coordinate system, such as a laser rangefinder 150 And the distance measured by the laser distance measurer 150 is used for each of the target points in addition to the pan and tilt angles. The method may include measuring the orientation of the aim point axis in the instrument coordinate system when the instrument's aim point axis is in turn aligned with each of the three calibration points on the surface of the target object, The positions of the calibration points are known. The method also includes measuring the distance from the instrument to each of the three calibration points substantially along the aiming point axis. The method also includes calculating a position defined in the instrument coordinate system using at least the measured orientation and distance in the instrument coordinate system corresponding to the known positions of the three calibration points and the three calibration points in the target object coordinate system And calculating a calibration matrix (sometimes referred to as a camera pose matrix) that translates to a position defined in the target object coordinate system. The method also includes measuring the orientation of the aiming point axis in the instrument coordinate system when the instrument's aim point axis is aligned with the point of interest. The method also includes at least the steps of: measuring the orientation of the aim point axis in the instrument coordinate system corresponding to the point of interest, the calibration matrix, and the distance from the instrument to the point of interest along substantially the aim point axis and the model of the surface of the target object in the target object coordinate system And calculating a position of the point of interest in the target-object coordinate system. The method also includes storing the calculated position.

In another example described in U.S. Patent No. 7,859,655, the LPS 145 may be used as a pointing device having a instrument coordinate system, such as a point of interest of the laser distance meter 150, A method for determining the orientation of the aiming point axis of the instrument so that it is aligned with the point of interest on the surface of the target object coordinate system is known where the position of the point of interest of the target object coordinate system is known. The method includes calculating a correction inverse matrix that converts a position defined in the target object coordinate system to a position defined in the instrument coordinate system. The method also includes calculating the orientation of the instrument's point of aim axis in the instrument coordinate system using at least a calibration inverse matrix, a position of the point of interest in the target object coordinate system, and an inverse kinematics of the instrument. The method also includes directing the instrument's aim point axis to the calculated orientation.

In another example described in U.S. Patent No. 7,859,655, the LPS 145 may be a laser with a device coordinate system, such as a laser beam from a laser range finder 150, A method for controlling the orientation of the laser beam to track the image on the surface of the target object is known, wherein the positions of the points for the image on the surface of the target object in the target object coordinate system are known. The method includes calculating a correction inverse matrix that converts a position defined in the target object coordinate system to a position defined in the instrument coordinate system. The method also includes calculating the orientations of the laser beam's laser in the instrument coordinate system using at least a calibration inverse matrix, positions of points on the image of the target object's surface in the target object coordinate system, and inverse kinematics of the instrument . The method also includes directing the laser beam to the calculated orientations to track the path on the surface of the target object.

In another example, as described in U.S. Patent No. 8,044,991, the LPS 145 is a computer that communicates with a video camera, a laser pointer, transmission and measurement pan and tilt axes, and an LPS that is aimed with a video camera and has a target object coordinate system That is, a remote inspection station 140. The computer is adapted to determine the relative position and orientation of the video camera relative to the target object, determine the position and orientation of the video camera in the target object coordinate system, and determine the position of the point of interest in the target object coordinate system. The system can also be used to aim the camera at a target object at a previously recorded point of interest. The local positioning system may include a video camera capable of having automated (remote controlled) zoom capabilities, and may additionally include an integrated crosshatcher to enable accurate locating of points within the optical image field display of the video camera can do. The direction vector describing the orientation of the camera relative to the fixed coordinate system of the video camera is determined from the azimuth and elevation angles as well as the central position of the crosshair marker of the optical system when the camera is aimed at the point of interest. This direction vector can be regarded as a line extending from the lens of the camera and intersecting the position on the target object. 3D positioning software can be loaded into the computer. The 3-D positioning software may use multiple calibration points at a distance to the target object to define the position (position and orientation) of the video camera relative to the target object. In some applications, the 3D positioning software, in conjunction with the pan and tilt data associated with the video camera, may use a plurality of calibration points for the target object to define the relative position and orientation of the video camera relative to the target object. The calibration points may be visible features of a known position in the local coordinate system of the target object, as determined from the 3-D CAD model or other measurement techniques. The calibration points can be used to coordinate with the azimuth and elevation angles from the pan-tilt mechanism to find solutions to the camera position and orientation to the target object. Once the position and orientation of the video camera relative to the target object is determined, the computer can be operated to rotate the optical image field of the video camera and zoom to a desired position of the unknown position on the target object. At this position of the direction vector, the orientation of the video camera (which may include the angle of the video camera along the azimuth axis and altitude axis) may be recorded. By using the azimuth and elevation angles from the pan-tilt unit and the relative position and orientation of the camera determined in the calibration process, the position of interest can be determined for the target object's coordinate system. An inverse process may also be performed where the position of the point of interest (from previous data acquisition sessions, CAD models, or other measurements) may be known in the coordinate system of the target object. In this situation, the LPS 145 may be placed at any position of the work area where calibration points are visible (which may be at a different location from where the original data was recorded), and a camera pose calibration step may be performed . The direction vector from the point of interest to the camera can be calculated in the coordinate system of the target object. The inverse of the camera pose transform matrix can be used to transform the direction vector into a camera coordinate system. The azimuth and elevation angles can then be calculated and used by the pan-tilt unit to aim the camera at the point of interest of the target object. In some applications, at least one laser pointer (e.g., three) may be mounted on the camera and aligned with the direction vector. The at least one laser pointer may provide a visual indication of the target object with respect to the aim or direction of the video system. This aiming feature provided by the laser pointer may be useful for helping rapid selection of position correction points and points of interest on the target object and / or the body structure 115 of the UAV 105, This is because the intersection of the emitted laser beams (not shown) can be visually confirmed. The use of laser pointers may also be useful when re-loading points in the target object's coordinate system (which may be previous repair positions or other points of interest) by showing the position on the target object.

In some instances, the UAV 105 may be a computer control (not shown) that may be integrated with the wireless UAV controller 130 and / or with the wireless UAV controller 130 and / or the LPS 145 and / Element can be controlled directly by manual control.

Referring to Figure 2, a system 200 for inspecting structures in accordance with the examples of this disclosure is shown. The system 200 is similar to the system 100 of Figure 1 except that the differences are an addition of counterweight 230 and one or more support structures 220, attachment devices, NDI device 225 locations . In this example, at least one of the one or more support structures 220 is arranged in the longitudinal axis of the body structure 215 of the UAV 205. One or more NDI devices 225 may be integrated at one end of support structure 220 and counterweight 230, which may or may not be a battery that may be arranged at the other end.

Referring to FIG. 3, a system 300 for inspecting structures in accordance with the examples of this disclosure is shown. The system 300 includes a UAV 305 arranged with one or more support structures 320 operable to support one or more NDI devices 325, May be integrated at one end of the structure (320). The system 300 is similar to the system 100 of FIG. 1 except that one or more NDI devices 325 may be separate from one or more support structures 320 and may include a fixed And may be physically fixed at a target location of the structure 110 using one or more of the mechanisms. Once one or more NDI devices 325 are fixed at the target location, the UAV 305 may then be directed to another target location of the structure 110, where the other NDI device 325 is located in the structure 110 ≪ / RTI > or may be directed to return to the operator. In some instances, once the NDI devices 325 have completed their data collection, the UAV 305 may be instructed to retrieve one or more NDI devices 325, or may receive one or more NDI devices (e.g., 325 may be separated by operator control or otherwise programmed to loosen with structure 110 and fall off structure 110.

In the examples of Figures 1 - 3, the UAV 105 and / or the NDI devices 125, 225, and 335 are connected to the NDI devices 125, 225, and 335 relative to the structure when docked or physically fixed with the structure 110, 335), which allows NDI devices to capture the damage of higher spatial resolution to be performed and time-dependent detection (such as IR thermography). Position stability can be achieved using the member 235 shown in Figure 2, which makes contact with the UAV 105, 205, 305 and / or with the structure 110. [

Referring to FIG. 4, it is shown that, in accordance with the examples of this disclosure, an NDI device 405 can be deployed by the UAV 105. NDI device 405, which may be NDI devices 125, 225, and 325, may include one or more NDI sensors (e.g., one or more NDI sensors) that may be operable to detect one or more contact- 410). The NDI device 405 may be sized to be carried by the UAV 105, 205, For example, one or more NDI sensors 410 may be used to detect and / or detect anomalies in an object such as eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, But are not limited to, sensors, IR thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors. The NDI device 405 may also optionally include a power source 415, a fastening / detaching mechanism 420, a transceiver 425, a controller 430 and a moving mechanism 435 all connected via a communication bus 440 . For example, the power supply 415 may provide power to one or more of the subsystems of the NDI device 405. In some instances, additional power or total power may be provided by a tether connected to the UAV 105, 205, The optional tether may also provide a safety and recovery mechanism for the system and may also be used to transmit and receive command or data signals to one or more NDI sensors 410 and one or more NDI sensors 410 Can be used. The securing / disengaging mechanism 420 may include one or more securing mechanisms as described herein and may include a detachment mechanism (not shown) that allows the NDI device 405 to be detached from the structure 110 and protected from impact through the suspending mechanism. May also be included. The transceiver 425 may be configured to provide location and / or measurement data from one or more NDI sensors 410 to the wireless UAV controller 130 and / or the remote inspection station 140. Controller 430 may be configured to control one or more of the subsystems of NDI device 405 and / or to communicate with wireless UAV controller 130 and / or remote inspection station 140 via transceiver 425 Can be programmed. The movement mechanism 435 may be operable to move the NDI device 405 along or around the surface of the structure 110 disclosed herein.

Referring to FIG. 5, a method 500 of presenting operations of one exemplary implementation of a system 100, 200, 300 is illustrated. The method 500 may be implemented with a non-transitory computer readable storage medium that stores operations that, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform a method 500 for NDI of a structure. At operation 505, a UAV 105, 205, 305 having one or more NDI devices 405 is directed to the target location of the structure 110. For example, the UAVs 105, 205, 305 may cause the UAV 105, 205, 305 to navigate in accordance with a preprogrammed flight plan, and inspection data for the structure 110 being inspected may be obtained And / or may be flipped along flight path 135 by an operator using wireless UAV controller 130. At 510, a UAV 105, 205, 305 and / or end effector, such as at least one support structure 120, 220, 235, 320, or manipulator arm is physically fixed at the target location of the structure. In some instances, the UAV 105, 205, 305 remains physically fixed to the structure 110 during the NDI inspection. In this example, the control signal may be provided by the wireless UAV controller 130 or by the controller 430 to stop the rotations of the UAV before performing the NDI check. In another example, a UAV 105, 205, 305 may physically attach one or more of the NDI devices 405 to the structure 110 and fly after deployment. At 515, the NDI device 405 has performed one or more NDI checks of the target location using one or more NDI sensors 410. At 520, the UAV 105, 205, 305 or end effector is physically released from the target position.

Additionally, this disclosure includes embodiments in accordance with the following clauses:

One. A nondestructive inspection ("NDI") system,

UAV ") comprising a body structure, wherein the body structure comprises one or more support structures, each of the one or more support structures including a releasable end structure; And

And one or more NDI sensors integrated in each releasable end structure.

2. In the NDI system of clause 1, the UAV includes a release controller operable to provide control signals to one or more support structures to release one or more NDI sensors from the releasable end structure.

3. In the NDI system of clause 1, at least one of the one or more NDI sensors is operable to sense one or more NDI sensing schemes.

4. The NDI system of clause 1 may include providing power to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors, providing control signals to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors, and providing a safety and recovery mechanism ≪ RTI ID = 0.0 > and / or < / RTI >

5. In the NDI system of clause 1, one or more NDI sensors include a mounting mechanism operable to fix one or more NDI sensors to the structure to be inspected.

6. The NDI system of clause 5 further comprises a position tracking system operable to determine a position, an orientation, or both a position and an orientation for at least one of the one or more NDI sensors for the structure using the coordinate system of the structure .

7. In the NDI system of clause 5, the mounting mechanism is self-based, vacuum-based, electrostatic-based, gripper-based or adhesive-based.

8. In the NDI system of clause 1, the UAV is operable to move using a predetermined flight path that is updated using position and orientation data obtained from a tracking system or controlled using a remote control system.

9. In the NDI system of clause 3, one or more NDI sensing schemes include touch-based NDI sensing.

10. In the NDI system of clause 1, one or more NDI sensors may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, , IR thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors.

11. In the NDI system of clause 1, at least one of the one or more support structures includes a manipulator arm.

12. In the NDI system of clause 11, the manipulator arm includes a gripper, and the gripper is operable to manipulate one or more NDI sensors with respect to the structure being inspected.

13. In the NDI system of clause 5, one or more NDI sensors are moved in relation to the structure to be inspected during data collection.

14. In the NDI system of clause 1, one or more of the support structures consists of one or more maintenance tools, one or more of which is a sander, drill, brush, paint sprayer, marker, ink stamp , A laser or a target applicator.

15. A nondestructive inspection ("NDI") system,

And a housing configured to receive components,

One or more NDI sensors operable to measure one or more characteristics of the structure;

A mounting mechanism operable to secure or release the housing to the structure; And

A transceiver operable to transmit measurement data from one or more NDI sensors,

The housing is dimensioned to be delivered to the target location of the structure by an unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAV").

16. In the NDI system of clause 15, the one or more NDI sensors may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, , IR thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors.

17. In the NDI system of clause 15, the mounting mechanism is one of self-based, vacuum based, electrostatic based, adhesive based and gripper based.

18. The NDI system of clause 15 further includes a power supply operable to power one or more NDI sensors.

19. The NDI system of clause 15 may include providing power to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors, providing control signals to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors, and providing a safety and recovery mechanism Lt; RTI ID = 0.0 > a < / RTI > tether.

20. The NDI system of clause 15 further comprises an impact protection structure operable to provide impact protection to at least a portion of the housing.

21. In the NDI system of clause 20, the impact protection structure includes an inflatable structure or a floating structure.

22. The NDI system of clause 15 further comprises a movement mechanism operable to move the housing along the surface of the structure.

23. A non-transient computer readable storage medium stores instructions that when executed by a processor cause the processor to perform a method for nondestructive inspection ("NDI") of a structure,

Directing an unmanned aerial vehicle ("UAV") to a target location of the structure;

Physically fixing the UAV or end effector to a target location;

Performing an NDI of the target position using one or more NDI sensors; And

And physically releasing the UAV or end effector from the target location.

24. In the non-temporary computer-readable storage medium of clause 23, the method further comprises providing a control signal for deactivating the rotor of the UAV prior to performing.

25. In the non-temporary computer-readable storage medium of clause 23, the step of physically fixing is magnetic based, vacuum based, electrostatic based, adhesive based or gripper based.

26. In a non-temporary computer-readable storage medium of clause 23, the method further comprises deploying at least one of one or more NDI sensors to a target location.

27. In the non-temporary computer-readable storage medium of clause 23, the method further comprises tracking position, orientation, or both position and orientation for the target position using the position positioning system.

For simplicity and illustrative purposes, the principles of these teachings are set forth primarily by reference to their exemplary implementations. However, those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the same principles may be equally applied to all types of information and systems and may be implemented with all types of information and systems, And will not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention. Moreover, in the foregoing detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which illustrate specific exemplary implementations. Electrical, mechanical, logical, and structural changes may be made to the exemplary implementations without departing from the spirit and scope of these teachings. The foregoing detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of these teachings is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

The terms and descriptions used herein are presented by way of example only and are not to be regarded as limitations. For example, although the methods are described in a top-down manner, the steps of the method may be performed in an order different from, or concurrent with, the illustrated one. Furthermore, to the extent that the terms "comprise," "includes," "having," "having," "having," or variations thereof, as used in the detailed description or the claims, It is intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term. As used herein, the term "one or more of" for a list of items such as, for example, A and B means A alone, B alone, or A and B. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that these and other variations are possible.

Other implementations consistent with the teachings from consideration of the practice of the disclosure and the disclosure disclosed herein will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the present disclosure being indicated by the following claims.

Claims (15)

  1. As a nondestructive inspection (NDI) system,
    ("UAV") comprising a body structure, the body structure comprising one or more support structures, each of the one or more support structures including a releasable end structure; And
    One or more NDI sensors 410 integrated into each releasable end structure,
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  2. The method according to claim 1,
    Wherein the UAV includes a release controller operable to provide a control signal to the one or more support structures to release the one or more NDI sensors (410) from the releasable end structure.
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  3. The method according to claim 1,
    Wherein at least one of the one or more NDI sensors (410) is operable to sense one or more NDI sensing schemes,
    The one or more NDI sensing schemes may include contact-based NDI sensing,
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  4. The method according to claim 1,
    Providing power to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors (410), providing control signals to at least one of the one or more NDI sensors, and a safety and retrieval mechanism And a tether operable to perform one or more of the following:
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  5. The method according to claim 1,
    The one or more NDI sensors 410 include a mounting mechanism operable to fix the one or more NDI sensors to a structure to be inspected,
    Wherein the one or more NDI sensors are moved relative to the structure to be inspected during data collection,
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  6. 6. The method of claim 5,
    Further comprising a position tracking system operable to determine a position, an orientation, or both the position and the orientation for at least one of the one or more NDI sensors (410) for the structure using the structure coordinate system In addition,
    The mounting mechanism may be a self-based, vacuum-based, electrostatic-based, gripper-based or adhesive-
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  7. 7. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 6,
    The UAV is operable to move using a predetermined flight path 135 that is updated using position and orientation data obtained from a tracking system or controlled using a remote control system,
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  8. 7. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 6,
    The one or more NDI sensors 410 may be selected from the group consisting of eddy current sensors, ultrasonic sensors, acoustic sensors, mechanical impedance sensors, optical sensors, x-ray backscattering sensors, computer tomography sensors, IR thermography, microwave sensors, and terahertz sensors.
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  9. 7. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 6,
    Wherein at least one of the one or more support structures includes a manipulator arm,
    The manipulator arm including a gripper,
    The gripper is operable to manipulate the one or more NDI sensors (410) relative to the structure being inspected.
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  10. 7. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 6,
    Wherein one of the one or more support structures comprises one or more maintenance tools,
    The one or more maintenance tools may include a sander, a drill, a brush, a paint sprayer, a marker, an ink stamp, a laser or a target applicator.
    Nondestructive inspection (NDI) system.
  11. 17. A non-transitory computer readable storage medium for storing instructions,
    The instructions, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform a method for nondestructive inspection ("NDI") of a structure,
    The method comprises:
    Directing an unmanned air vehicle ("UAV") to a target location of the structure;
    Physically fixing the UAV or end effector to the target position;
    Performing an NDI of the target location using one or more NDI sensors (410); And
    Physically releasing the UAV or end effector from the target location.
    Non-transient computer readable storage medium.
  12. 12. The method of claim 11,
    Wherein the method further comprises providing a control signal to deactivate the rotor of the UAV prior to performing the step of performing.
    Non-transient computer readable storage medium.
  13. 12. The method of claim 11,
    The step of physically fixing may be performed on a self-based, vacuum-based, electrostatically-based, adhesive-based or gripper-
    Non-transient computer readable storage medium.
  14. 14. The method according to any one of claims 11 to 13,
    The method further includes deploying at least one of the one or more NDI sensors (410) to the target location.
    Non-transient computer readable storage medium.
  15. 14. The method according to any one of claims 11 to 13,
    The method may further comprise tracking a position, an orientation, or both the position and the orientation for the target position using a position positioning system.
    Non-transient computer readable storage medium.
KR1020170144127A 2016-10-31 2017-10-31 Method and system for non-destructive testing using an unmanned aerial vehicle KR20180048405A (en)

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EP3315406B1 (en) 2020-05-20
AU2017219137A1 (en) 2018-05-17

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